USA Team in the International Astronomy & Astrophysics Olympiad best performance yet in this year's trials.

November 14, 2018

Historical Results for Team USA in the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics

Over three hundred students from thirty-eight countries competed in the 12th International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing, China from November 3rd through 11th. The American team achieved its best result since its first participation six years ago, with four medals and an honorable mention:

  • Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX) — gold medal
  • Vincent Bian (Poolesville High School, MD) — gold medal and special award for highest score in the theoretical exam
  • April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) — silver medal
  • Sahil Pontula (Enloe High School, NC) — bronze medal
  • Andy Zhu (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) — honorable mention
  • David Yue (Texas Academy of Math and Science, TX) — due to sickness arrived late to the competition.

These achievements are all the more remarkable considering that the USA team never met in person before the competition. Training was conducted by volunteer mentors through video calls with the team members. Instruction in theoretical problems was provided by team leaders  Ioana Zelko (Harvard University - Center for Astrophysics) and Natasa Dragovic (University of Texas at Austin) and. Prof. Blagoy Rangelov (from Texas State University) and local astronomical societies helped students with the observational round. Prof. David Fallest (North Carolina State University) helped students with data analysis.

The USA team was selected by volunteer members of the USAAAO (USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad) based on candidates’ results in a selection exam. The next IOAA will take place in Hungary in August 2019. The USAAAO will soon open registration for the 2019 First Round Exam. Anyone interested in competing should sign up at

The USAAAO team is entirely self-funded and does not receive any support from the United States government.